For today's Firestorm Armada post I want to look at the Aquan destroyer class Stingray, discuss its aesthetic, compare and contrast it to other Aquan vessels, and speculate on its design development.
A gamer at our local club was complaining about the Stingray a few weeks back. This diatribe mostly focused on its rules and stats in the game, which I have no strong opinions on either way. But as a parting shot he criticized the ship's aesthetic, saying that it does not even fit with the rest of the Aquan theme.
I've been mulling over the look of the Stringray since that conversation. While it is certainly different from other models in the Aquan line, that is not necessarily a bad thing. It has a more classic sci-fi feel to it. I can't put my finger on the exact reference in my memory, but there's a hint of nostalgia surrounding it. Maybe something from an old video game from the 80's. For now I'll call it the retro look.
The Stingray is definitely Aquan. It sports beam crystals on the wings and dorsal bridge. Forgive me, I don't know their actual term. Beam emitters? It also has the ion projector crystals used for non-FTL thrust. Correct me if I'm wrong, but off the top of my head I thought I read in the Alliance of Kurak book that all Aquan ships use human-invented FTL technology for interstellar travel. I'm not sure what FTL technology actually looks like.
In contrast to other Aquan ships, the Stingray's scalloped hull almost gives a sense that it is aerodynamic. I think this is more of a form over function decision on the Spartan designer's behalf, which is fine. Fortunately we have actual examples of Aquan atmospheric flyers through the Planetfall range of models. All examples of those are more flying manta ray in appearance, so the Stingray is defintely the odd duck out. It is actually comparatively slow in Firestorm Armada with a movement of 7" which may support the form over function theory.
My in-universe speculation is that the Stingray was one of the first dedicated warships that the Aquans developed in direct response to piracy and raiders. It seems like the sort of vessel that would patrol supply lines, sowing mines, and reaching out at long range to discourage opportunistic privateers.
The Snapper corvette may have also been developed alongside the Stingray destroyer as the hound sent in to flush out game, driving it into the hunter's waiting guns. The two ship types have more in common aesthetically than any other Aquan vessels, which could still be coincidence.
Will we see future Aquan ships in the style of the Stingray? I would welcome it. Spartan has said all previous iterations of these models are canon, and one can see a tip of the hat to old design cues in newer ships. Something to think about.